|Officers of HCM City's Market Management Bureau inspect over 15,800 packets of smuggled tobacco that they seized on Tuesday. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hai
HCM CITY (VNS)— Over 15,800 packets of smuggled tobacco were seized on Tuesday in an operation by the HCM City Market Watch Department to prevent smuggled tobacco from being traded in the city.
The city's operation is part of an ongoing nationwide campaign against tobacco smugglers held between April 1 and June 30, which was launched by the Ministry of Industry and Trade's Market Surveillance Agency on Tuesday.
The move follows the Government's directives on fighting cigarette smuggling to protect the domestic producers and local employees, and to ensure revenue for the State budget and social security.
Typically, the Market Watch Team 3B, which checked tobacco trading in District 3' s Ward 8, confiscated more than 1,800 packets of smuggled tobacco, whereas the Tan Phu Market Watch Team, which checked the trading in Tan Phu District's Tay Thanh Ward, seized more than 6,000 packets of smuggled tobacco of different kinds.
Deputy Director of the department Nguyen Van Bach noted that the campaign in the city was aimed at decreasing the amount of tobacco being smuggled and set up a public order for managing tobacco.
Violators will be punished in accordance with the current law, including criminal prosecution, claimed Bach.
In the central city of Da Nang, the municipal Market Watch Department conducted checks on 45 tobacco shops in the first day of the campaign and found 11 shops selling smuggled tobacco.
The department confiscated more than 1,400 packets of tobacco bearing different trademarks, such as Jet and 555.
According to the Market Surveillance Agency, over 6.8 million packs of illegally imported tobacco were seized during 2013 and in the first quarter of 2014. The situation along the borders with China, Laos, and Cambodia is complex.
There is rampant tobacco smuggling taking place in the southern provinces of Tay Ninh, An Giang, Long An, Dong Thap, and Kien Giang, while the storage and distribution of the illegal cargo takes place in major cities, such as Ha Noi, HCM City, and Quang Ninh.
The agency's Deputy Head, Nguyen Trong Tin, stated that they will coordinate closely with public security, customs, and border security forces to carry out effective inspections. Businesses, households, and individuals dealing in tobacco, as well as supermarkets, coach stations, bars, and dance halls will also be checked.
The current laws stipulate that those who repeatedly violate the law will have their business operations suspended for one to two years, and a transaction involving 1,500 or more packs of contraband cigarettes will attract a criminal charge.
However, the lack of close cooperation between the concerned authorities and the increasingly sophisticated ploys adopted by the smugglers are hindering the fight against tobacco smuggling, the agency reported. — VNS